Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

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9780834800793: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases used by Zen teachers to throw you back upon yourself, to make you go behind the words themselves and begin wondering. "I know what my own mind is," you tell yourself, "but what is Zen mind?" And then: "But do I really know what my own mind is?" Is it what I am doing now? Is it what I am thinking now?" And if you should then try to sit physically still for a while to see if you can locate it—then you have begun the practice of Zen, then you have begun to realize the unrestricted mind.

The innocence of this first inquiry—just asking what you are—is beginner's mind. The mind of the beginner is needed throughout Zen practice. It is the open mind, the attitude that includes both doubt and possibility, the ability to see things always as fresh and new. It is needed in all aspects of life. Beginner's mind is the practice of Zen mind.

This book originated from a series of talks given by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki to a small group in Los Altos, California. He joined their meditation periods once a week and afterwards answered their questions and tried to encourage them in their practice of Zen and help them solve the problems of life. His approach is informal, and he draws his examples from ordinary events and common sense. Zen is now and here, he is saying; it can be as meaningful for the West as for the East. But his fundamental teaching and practice are drawn from all the centuries of Zen Buddhism and especially from Dogen, one of the most important and creative of all Zen Masters.

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Review:

A respected Zen master in Japan and founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, Shunryu Suzuki has blazed a path in American Buddhism like few others. He is the master who climbs down from the pages of the koan books and answers your questions face to face. If not face to face, you can at least find the answers as recorded in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, a transcription of juicy excerpts from his lectures. From diverse topics such as transience of the world, sudden enlightenment, and the nuts and bolts of meditation, Suzuki always returns to the idea of beginner's mind, a recognition that our original nature is our true nature. With beginner's mind, we dedicate ourselves to sincere practice, without the thought of gaining anything special. Day to day life becomes our Zen training, and we discover that "to study Buddhism is to study ourselves." And to know our true selves is to be enlightened. --Brian Bruya

About the Author:

Shunryu Suzuki (1904–1971) was one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the twentieth century and is truly a founding father of Zen in America. A Japanese priest of the Soto lineage, he taught in the United States from 1959 until his death. He was the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. He is the author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai, and he is the subject of the biography Crooked Cucumber by David Chadwick.

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